I’ve felt this feeling before…
I felt it in early 2004 when it was obvious that Gérard Houllier’s tenure was coming to an end. I felt it in 2010 when we knew that Rafa was done and I felt it from the last game of the 2014/15 season, Stoke City away.
The feeling that the team has been figured out, run out of momentum, are on the downward part of the curve.
It’s that feeling that something is over. A changing of the guard is needed.
Now just to make this absolutely clear: I am not calling time on Jürgen Klopp. Klopp is without doubt the man I want in charge of my football club. His compassion, his values, his politics; not to mention his football philosophy. Jürgen Norbert Klopp is the only football manager I want in charge of my club.
Where this familiar feeling differs from its previous incarnations is that it feels like it’s the end of an era for this team.
Klopp’s first great Liverpool team. Champions of country, continent and globe. The greatest Liverpool side in many of our living memories.
Accelerated by the longest injury list in top-flight history, this legendary team now finds itself devoid of confidence and ideas.
Devoid of fight and a desire to get back to the top. Yes, you could argue that 7 of the first team were missing against Fulham. But, still? Come on.
We’ve gone from the longest undefeated home-run in the club’s history to losing six in a row. It’s beyond explanation. Something is seriously wrong and it’s got me pulling my hair out.
I say pulling my hair out. I’ll be honest… I’m actually feeling numb towards it all now. It’s been going on too long. The inevitability is overwhelming. As I’ve said, I’ve had this feeling before.
If it were Football Manager, I’d have ‘gone on holiday’ weeks ago. Use current starting XI, reject all offers, perhaps just going live again for the European games (admit it, you still think we can win the European Cup too).
Clearly something needs to change.
Momentum is massive. And we don’t have it. At all.
We need to get onto a new curve. Start again on an upward trajectory.
So how do we do that?
The summer of hope looms large in all of our lives. Vaccined-up and ready to go! Fans back, pubs open. Family and friends reunited.
And for us Reds, the hope of a revitalisation. A new era.
I’d be selling Neco Williams, Nat Phillips, James Milner (thanks for everything), Divock Origi & Shaq. Of course, Gini is leaving too.
I’d also sell at least one of the front three.
They’ve come to embody this team. They are everything. You say front three to any football fan and they think of our lads. And let’s not forget, they’ve been fucking brilliant.
But that’s all past tense.
That’s why I’d be breaking up the band.
It’s not been clicking on the pitch for a while. Opposition teams have worked out how to defend against us.
Our Plan A no longer works. And Plan B involves Divock Origi.
But it’s more than that. The team needs a new identity, a new style of play and a new spearhead to lead it. It needs to feel exciting and new again.
Breaking up the famous trio and moving on some of the old guard would freshen things up and allow the team to move forward without the baggage connected to the past few seasons.
Of course, quality replacements will be needed and the likely scenario of no top-level European football would make that difficult, both financially and in terms of football status. But Edwards and the scouting department have proven themselves to be deft operators in the past. You have to believe they’ll get the most out of whatever situation they are faced with.
What would I add?
I’d buy 3 players. A defender. A midfielder. A forward. All 21–25 years old.
The defender will be 3rd/4th choice. In the spirit of keeping things fresh, I’d not be signing Kabak, even though I think he’s done a decent job.
The midfielder needs to be Premier League ready and able to play 90 minutes on a regular basis. He’s got big boots to fill in Gini and Milner. I like that lad from Brighton but I’m sure there are people with wider European football knowledge than me with other names to consider.
And the forward? That’s where we need to spend some cash. Personally I’d be signing either an out and out centre-forward, like Erling Haaland, or a number 10 like Jack Grealish. Haaland or Grealish would allow us to change our style.
Both of those players would come at a premium, as would the permanently linked Kylian Mbappé. And unless the GoFundMe page comes to fruition, I can’t see any of them happening. But a different approach is definitely needed.
A player from the next tier down would be more likely. After all, none of our current forward line were considered elite when we signed them.
There isn’t a better back four (5 with the keeper) in the world, they’ll remain. And Henderson and Fab are two of the best at what they do too.
With that base and a fresh attacking style, coupled with the fans returning, next season may just bring the new upward trajectory that we need.
We’ll remember this team one day. We won’t anguish over this season. Instead we’ll rejoice in the memories of what they achieved 17–20.
We’ll also remember how, like generations of great teams before, they evolved into a new version of themselves.
Keegan to Kenny. Rush to Fowler. Torres to Suarez.
Evolution goes on.
Bring on the summer!